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Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Post: Digital Libraries and the future of digital publishing

Guest Post by the author of the blog: stones and words and words and stones, Roger Greer


From the article: Penguin books hop off digital libraries

"Penguin has been a long-time supporter of libraries with both physical and digital editions of our books. We have always placed a high value on the role that libraries can play in connecting our authors with our readers. However, due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners," it said.
This move sparked discussion between myself and the owner of this blog, resulting in this, my very first guest post!

I agree with Penguin on this move, and I freely admit that the conclusion is based on feelings, on the overall understanding of the human desire to get things for free.

umans need entertainment; from the first cave drawings to the digital art of today, from the first drums to the iPod, and from the papaya scrolls to the digital books…no…wait a minute. Books are different, are they not?

Artwork can be similar to books in the singularity of the piece, but that did not stop people from forging those pieces. The invention of the printing press meant that art work could be mass-produced and sold to more people, and, following that came more sophisticated means of reproduction. This still deals with a single piece though, one sheet of poster paper per pirated print, easily produced at you local Staples©.

Music has soothed the masses since the beginning of time and every innovation in recording and storing has caused problems for the artists and sellers of music. The cassette tape, ubiquitous in the 1970’s was supposed to kill the music business due to the ease of dubbing from your friends vinyl collection. When music went digital, the same argument was made, and yet, the business still thrives. It has adapted, for the most part, and will continue to do so.

Books, however, have never really had this pirating problem. Sure, plagiarism has always been around, but as the world shrunk, that even began to become difficult. No longer could someone translate a book from Russian and sell it in America as their own work. Forget photocopying an entire book, too time consuming. So free libraries thrived, collections of the written word, allowing everyone to enjoy books without having to buy everything one wanted to read. There was little fear that the borrower was going to copy the book and sell it. Now, with the advent of e-books, this is a legitimate fear, and one that must be addressed.

Writers write because they have no choice; and some make money doing it. Still others make money providing the results of the writer’s struggles, many others (printers, sellers, editors). But it isn’t about the money, not completely, it is about the work of the author belonging to the author. If an e-book can be easily copied, repackaged, and sold as being the product of someone else, the original author is hurt deeper than financially.

The above scenario is especially true for new authors. A new author, due to the nature of the business, would have a more difficult time proving the work in question was his or hers. Losing the rights to your work is scary, and if a company as large as Penguin is concerned, small press and new authors should also take note.

Find more writing by this author at his blog,  stones and words and words and stones

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